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The Valley of Adventure, Page 2

Enid Blyton

  ‘Of course,’ said Mrs Mannering. ‘I’ll look some out for you.’

  ‘I’ll bring my lovely camera,’ said Jack. ‘There’ll be room for odds and ends like that in the plane, won’t there, Bill?’

  ‘Plenty’ said Bill. ‘Bring your field glasses too, because you may want to have a squint at the different birds in the hills around.’

  ‘Oh, it will be exciting!’ said Jack, his eyes shining at the thought. ‘I can’t wait till tomorrow. Let’s go today!’

  ‘The plane’s not ready,’ said Bill. ‘Got to have something done to her today. Anyway, my leave doesn’t start till tomorrow. You get everything packed and ready, and come to the aerodrome tomorrow night. Be there at eleven o’clock sharp. I’ll order a car to call for you and take you there.’

  ‘What a time to start on a journey!’ said Mrs Mannering. ‘I don’t know that I altogether like it.’

  You can’t change your mind now, you can’t!’ cried the children.

  ‘No, I won’t,’ said Mrs Mannering. ‘But somehow I don’t feel very easy in my mind about it all. Oh, children, you won’t go and do anything dangerous, will you?’

  ‘There’s nothing dangerous for them to do,’ said Bill. ‘I’ll look after them all right. Anyone doing anything dangerous will be sent back to you, Mrs Mannering.’

  The children laughed. Then Jack’s face fell. ‘I say – what about Kiki? She won’t like me being away for some days. Can I take her with me? What about the plane – will she be all right in it?’

  ‘You’d better put her into a basket or something,’ said Bill. ‘She might get scared at the noise and fly off. She’ll be all right in a basket on your knee. We can’t leave her behind.’

  ‘Right,’ said Jack, pleased. ‘Do you hear that, Kiki old bird? You’re to travel in a basket – and mind you behave yourself!’

  ‘Wipe your feet,’ said Kiki, ‘put the kettle on, kettle on! Poor, poor Polly!’

  ‘Idiot!’ said Jack, and scratched her poll. ‘All I hope is that you don’t try to imitate the noise an aeroplane makes. Your express train screech is bad enough.’

  They all had a pleasant lunch and then Bill departed. The children went upstairs to put together their things. Dinah put a whole packet of chocolate into her case, in case there were no shops at Bill’s home. Jack stuffed a packet of biscuits into his case. He often woke up at night and liked a biscuit to nibble then.

  ‘Better take plenty of films with you, Jack, if you’re thinking of photographing birds,’ said Philip. ‘I bet there won’t be anywhere to buy them where Bill lives. It’s somewhere buried right down in the country.’

  Mrs Mannering came up to see what they were packing. It was a cold August, with rather a lot of rain, and the children would need a fair amount of warm things. They had put in pullovers and jerseys and macks and sou’westers. She added rubber boots too, thinking that shoes would not be of much use if they walked over wet fields.

  ‘I’ve found you some rugs,’ she said. ‘You can each take one. They are old, but very thick and warm, and as good as two blankets. If Bill hasn’t enough blankets for you it won’t matter at all – the rugs will give you plenty of warmth. Don’t forget to bring them back, now!’

  Jack got his camera ready. He looked out his rolls of films. He debated whether or not to take one of his bird books with him, and then decided not to, because his suitcase was already very heavy.

  ‘Everything’s done now, Aunt Allie,’ said Lucy-Ann, sitting on her suitcase to make it shut. ‘I wish tomorrow would hurry up and come. Fancy flying in the dark in Bill’s plane! I never in my life thought I would do that. I hope it’s a long long way to Bill’s home.’

  ‘It is,’ said Mrs Mannering. ‘Now let me see – I’d better pack you sandwiches and cake to take with you for the journey because you are sure to be hungry if you stay up all night. I’ll do those tomorrow. Have you found a basket for Kiki, Jack? And what about taking some food for her? There’s a new packet of sunflower seeds come today. Put it into your suitcase.’

  Jack found a good basket for Kiki, with a lid that closed down. He put it on the table. Kiki flew over to it at once in curiosity. She hopped inside and looked out comically.

  ‘Clever bird,’ said Jack. ‘You know it’s your travelling basket, don’t you?’

  ‘God save the Queen!’ said Kiki, and began to rub her curved beak up and down the edge of the basket.

  ‘Don’t do that, said Jack. ‘You’ll break it. Stop it, Kiki!’

  Kiki climbed out and flew to Jack’s shoulder. She rubbed her beak against his hair.

  ‘Ding-dong bell,’ she murmured. ‘Polly’s in the well. Ding-dong bell.’

  ‘Polly’s in the basket, you mean,’ said Lucy-Ann. ‘Kiki, you’re going in an aeroplane. Think of that!’

  The day went slowly – far too slowly for the children. The next day was even slower. By the time that tea time came the children felt that night would never never come.

  But when supper time came they felt more cheerful. The car was coming at a quarter past ten to take them to the aerodrome. Then into the plane they would get with Bill and off they would go into the darkness. Somehow it seemed far more thrilling to fly through the dark night than through the sunshiny day.

  Ten o’clock struck. The suitcases and rugs were taken down to the hall. Jacks camera was there too, and a large packet of sandwiches and cakes. Jack wore his field glasses on a strap over his shoulder. Kiki’s basket was in the hall also, but Kiki was still free. She was not going into the basket till the last moment.

  ‘Here’s the car!’ cried Philip, his sharp ears hearing the engine purring up to the door. ‘Come along! Goodbye, Mother! Look after yourself well till we come back!’

  ‘Goodbye, Aunt Allie,’ said Jack, giving her a hug. ‘We’ll send you a postcard. Hi, Kiki, come on – it’s time you got into your basket.’

  Kiki made a bit of a fuss going in. She was excited because of the excitement of the four children. It took quite a time to get her into the basket and shut the lid down. She began to shout at the top of her voice.

  ‘Poor Polly, poor Polly, down the well, down the well, up the hill, in the corner!’

  ‘She’s mixing up Ding-dong bell and Jack and Jill and Jack Horner,’ said Lucy-Ann with a giggle. ‘Be quiet, Kiki! You ought to be glad you’re coming with us, even if you have to travel in a shut basket!’

  All the goodbyes were said. ‘I don’t like letting you go, somehow,’ said Mrs Mannering. ‘It’s silly of me – but I don’t. I’ve got an uncomfortable feeling – as if you’re going off into another dreadful adventure.’

  ‘We promise not to,’ said Philip earnestly. ‘Don’t you worry Mother. We’ll be all right, and you’ll see us turning up, like bad pennies, in a few days’ time. Anyway, Bill’s on the phone and you can always ring him.’

  The taxi revved up its engine. It moved off down the drive, with Mrs Mannering left standing at the door, waving. The children waved back, excited. They were really off.

  ‘Now for the aerodrome!’ said Philip, pleased. ‘I thought tonight would never come. What’s the time? Oh, we’re early. Good. Got the passes, Jack?’

  ‘Dinah’s got them in her bag,’ said Jack. Dinah fished them out. They were passes that would take them into the aerodrome, and up to Bill himself.

  It was a good way to the aerodrome. The night was very dark. Clouds covered the sky, and a few drops of rain spattered the windscreen.

  ‘Here’s the aerodrome at last!’ cried Jack, seeing the lights through the window. ‘Look at the flare-path – all lit up. Isn’t it fine? Don’t the aeroplanes look enormous in the shadows at each side? Here, Dinah – where are the passes? We’ve got to show them now.’

  The passes were shown to the man at the entrance to the aerodrome and the children went in.

  ‘I’ll set you down here and you can speak to your friend,’ said the taxi man. ‘Then I’ll run on to his aeroplane and dump the luggage beside it for you. So l

  ‘Now we’ll find Bill,’ said Philip as the car drove off. ‘There he is, look! Hi, Bill, we’re here!’


  A grave mistake

  Bill was talking to three or four men very earnestly. He waved to the children, a tall, burly shadow in the night.

  ‘Hallo, kids! I’m busy for a few minutes. You cut along to the aeroplane and wait for me. Stow your cases in at the back where mine is. I’ll be about ten minutes or so.’

  ‘Right, Bill,’ said Jack, and the four of them moved off to where the taxi man had put their cases, beside an aeroplane not very far away.

  It was dark where the aeroplane stood, but the children could see enough to pick up their cases. They climbed up the ladder and into the cabin.

  The inside of the plane was in darkness. The children had no idea how to put the lights on. They felt their way to the back of the plane and put down their things. They threw their rugs there too. Jack put Kiki’s basket down carefully. Kiki had been most indignant all the way.

  ‘Humpy dumpy bumpy,’ she said. ‘Pop goes the weasel!’

  There was a large crate in the middle of the plane. The children wondered what was in it. Was it empty or full? It must be something Bill was taking back with him.

  ‘It’s blocking up all the inside,’ said Jack. ‘We can’t sit down properly with that thing there. Let’s squat down on our rugs at the back. We’ll be quite comfortable there. Perhaps Bill will shift the crate a bit when he comes, and tell us where he wants us to sit.’

  So they sat down patiently on their rugs and waited. The noise of the plane’s engines went on and on, and it was impossible to hear anything else, though once Jack thought he could hear somebody shouting.

  He went to the door and looked out. But all was darkness and Bill was nowhere to be seen. What a time he was!

  He went back to his place, yawning. Lucy-Ann was half asleep. ‘I wish Bill would come,’ said Philip. ‘I shall go to sleep if he doesn’t.’

  Then a lot of things happened very quickly indeed. Over and above the sound of the engine came the sound of shots – gunshots. That made the children sit up in a hurry.

  Then another shot sounded – and then there came the noise of someone clambering hurriedly up the steps into the plane, and a man flung himself down in the control seat. Another followed, panting, hardly to be seen in the darkness. The children sat as if they were frozen. What in the world was happening? Was one of the men Bill? Who was the other – and what was the hurry? The first man took the controls of the plane, and to the children’s amazement it began to taxi forwards. They were off! But why hadn’t Bill spoken to them? Why hadn’t he at least looked round to see that they were safely inside?

  ‘Keep quiet,’ said Jack to the others. ‘If Bill doesn’t want to speak to us, there’s a reason. Maybe he doesn’t want the other fellow to know we’re here. Keep quiet.’

  The plane rose into the air, its propellers making a great whirring noise. It headed swiftly into the wind.

  The men shouted to one another, but the children could not make out what they were saying because the noise of the engine was so loud. They sat quiet and still, hidden from view by the big crate standing in the middle of the plane.

  Bill said nothing to them at all. He didn’t call out to know if they were there. He didn’t send his companion along to see if they were all right. He simply took no notice of them at all. It was very queer and Lucy-Ann didn’t like it a bit.

  One of the men fiddled about and found a switch. He pulled it down and a light shone out just by the men, but the rest of the plane was still in darkness. Philip peeped round the crate, meaning to catch Bill’s eye if he could.

  Almost at once he came back to the others, and sat down very quietly. He said nothing.

  ‘What’s up?’ asked Jack, sensing that Philip was worried.

  ‘You go and look round that crate,’ said Philip. ‘Have a good look at the two men.’

  Jack went and peered round. He came back feeling puzzled and scared. ‘Neither of those men is Bill,’ he said. ‘Golly – it’s funny!’

  ‘What do you mean?’ said Lucy-Ann in alarm. ‘One must be Bill. Why, this is Bill’s aeroplane!’

  ‘Yes, but is it?’ said Dinah suddenly. ‘Look where the light catches those seats, Lucy-Ann – they are red – and the ones in Bill’s plane were green. I remember them quite well.’

  ‘So they were,’ said Jack, remembering too. ‘Golly! We’re in the wrong plane!’

  There was a long silence. Nobody knew what to think about it. They were in the wrong plane – not Bill’s at all! Two strange men sat at the controls – men who would probably be extremely angry when they found their unexpected passengers. Neither Jack nor Philip liked the look of the men in the least. They had really only seen the backs of their heads, and the side face of the man when he had turned to shout to his companion – but neither of the boys had felt drawn to the two men.

  ‘They’ve got such thick necks,’ thought Jack. ‘Oh, gosh this is awful! And there were those shots too – were they anything to do with these men? They clambered into the plane in a frightful hurry and set off at once. I do believe we’ve stumbled into an adventure again.’

  Philip spoke cautiously to the others. It was no good whispering, because whispers couldn’t possibly be heard. So Philip had to speak loudly and trust that he would not be heard by the men in front.

  ‘What are we going to do? We have got into the wrong plane! That’s the fault of that stupid taxi-man, putting down our things by the wrong aeroplane. It was so dark that we ourselves couldn’t possibly tell which plane was which.’

  Lucy-Ann sat close to Jack, frightened. It wasn’t very nice to be high up in the air, lost in the darkness, in the wrong aeroplane with men that none of them had seen before.

  ‘What can we do?’ wondered Jack. ‘We really are in a mess. Honestly, those two men won’t half be mad when they see us!’

  ‘They might tip us out,’ said Lucy-Ann in alarm. ‘And we haven’t got parachutes on. Jack, don’t let them know we’re here.’

  ‘They’ll have to know sooner or later,’ said Dinah. ‘What idiots we are – getting into the wrong plane! I never thought of that.’

  There was a silence again, with everyone thinking very hard.

  ‘Shall we just stay here at the back of the plane on our rugs, and hope we shan’t be noticed?’ said Philip. ‘Then, when we arrive somewhere maybe we can slip out of the plane and look for help.’

  ‘Yes – that’s the best idea,’ said Jack. ‘We are well hidden here, unless the men come round to the back for something. Maybe they will arrive at their destination, get out without seeing us, and then we can slip out ourselves and ask for help to get back home.’

  ‘I did want to stay with Bill,’ said Lucy-Ann, almost in tears. ‘Whatever will he be thinking?’

  ‘Goodness knows!’ said Jack gloomily. ‘He’ll be hunting all over the aerodrome for us. You know, I believe that must have been Bill I heard shouting, when I went to the door to see. He must have gone to his own plane, found we weren’t there and yelled for us. Dash! If only I’d guessed that!’

  ‘Well, it’s too late now,’ said Philip. ‘I hope Mother won’t be worried. Oh dear – she’ll think we’ve fallen headlong into another adventure. And we promised not to.’

  The aeroplane roared on through the dark night. The children had no idea whether they were flying north, south, east or west. Then Jack remembered his pocket compass and took it out.

  ‘We’re flying east,’ he said. ‘I wonder where we’re going to. I don’t somehow feel as if I’m in a plane at all, as I can’t look out and see the ground far below’

  The others felt the same. Lucy-Ann lay down on the rugs and yawned. ‘I’m going to sleep,’ she said. ‘I shall only feel frightened and worried if I keep awake.’

  ‘It’s a good idea of yours,’ said Philip, and he stretched himself out on the rugs too. ‘We shall be sure to wake up if
we arrive anywhere.’

  ‘Anyone want a sandwich or bit of cake?’ asked Dinah, remembering the picnic packet. But nobody did. The shock of finding themselves in the wrong aeroplane had taken away their appetites completely.

  Soon all of them but Jack were asleep. He lay awake, thinking hard. Had Bill been mixed up in the shooting they had heard? Were these two men anything to do with the job Bill had been working on – the ‘secret’ job? It might be just possible that Jack and the others might find out something that would help Bill. It was important not to let the two men know that they had some hidden passengers in their plane.

  Kiki gave an exasperated screech in her basket. Jack jumped. He had forgotten Kiki. He tapped the basket and spoke in as low a voice as he could, hoping that Kiki would hear him.

  ‘Shut up, Kiki! Don’t make a noise, whatever you do. It’s very important to be quiet. You hear me, Kiki? You must be quiet, be quiet, be quiet.’

  ‘Be quiet,’ repeated Kiki, from inside the basket. ‘Shhhhhhhhhh!’

  Jack couldn’t help smiling. Yes,’ he said, putting his face close to the basket. ‘Shhhhhhhh!’

  Kiki was quiet after that. She was a mischievous, noisy bird, but she would always be quiet if Jack wanted her to be. So she sat inside her basket, trying to tuck her head under her wing and go to sleep. But the loud sound of the plane’s engine upset her. She had never heard such a noise before. She longed to imitate it, but fortunately she didn’t try just then.

  After a bit the two men changed places and the second one took over the controls. The first one yawned and stretched. He got up and Jack’s heart almost stopped beating in fright. Was he going to come to the back of the plane? He wondered whether or not to wake the others.

  But the man did not come to the back. He stood up for a few minutes as if to stretch his legs, then lighted a pipe. Blue smoke drifted to the back of the cabin. Jack was most relieved to see the man sit down again.